I love the ritual of end of year reflections – powerful to deal with all that was in order to clear energy for a new intent for the year, always a reckoning and review of all the things that went right as well as letting go of all that didn’t.

Before I get into that for people who do the hard yard reading and always have done – love you dearly – a quick update on quick news you might need if you’re still in Jozi.

We need to close over the quiet season as we can’t get deliveries and it’s too quiet, we lose more money staying open than just biting the bullet and getting this team the psychological break they need and not committing to waste, is important.

We need to clear the stock we have in the store as far as possible before we shut the doors for the final hour of 2017 trading at 2pm on Christmas Eve.

All of our dry shelf goods – excluding honey, eggs and the EM probiotics have a 20% discount at the tills as well as all frozen stock excluding chickens. We aren’t able to repeat this at any other time in the year, but have to at this point as we want the store as empty as possible before we close, so we take the knock. It’s a good time for you to buy things as gifts for the conscious consumer like chocolate or coffee beans or the treat snacks as well as to stock up on things good for clean snacking when you’re on the road and enter a desert of healthy food.

We close at 2pm on Christmas Eve, any fresh fridge produce left on Christmas Eve will be discounted. There is always a tight run on stock at this time so don’t leave it to the last – it’s a gamble – you might end up with great specials on the last of the fresh fridge items but they also might be gone.

We’ve had some fresh produce come in today that we couldn’t resist ordering – some new things from an urban organic farm project I’ll tell you more about in the new year – quite literally just picked out of the ground with Sam – organic potatoes (mixed varieties), mixed sized and variety patty-pans – utter delights, the giant ones look like little melons and pumpkins. Very, very excited about this project we’ll be working more closely with next year. We also have an abundance of gorgeous bountiful beetroots and the mixed coloured varieties as well as tomatoes.

To those of you who brought the loose tomatoes from ‘Debbie’s Garden’ last week – thank you, I was exceptionally proud. My own organic garden has burst this Summer and tomatoes always explode just as I’m about to head off for holiday. I’ll bring in more tomorrow – as well as fresh pumpkin leaves before they walk into the house. My pumpkins have just flowered and the leaves are perfect for picking so if you’re in tomorrow – look out for those in the fridge. I would definitely think about pairing the pumpkin leaves with the organic garlic we have in now, it’s the season for organic garlic and there are also some gorgeous sweet red onions in and they’d work as a trio with a dash of cream and perhaps some of Gay’s Guernsey dairy cheese. The full range is in from the Mozzarella to the Parmesan and her table cheeses – all A2 Guernsey cheeses from her pastured dairy herd. Just lightly fry some fresh garlic and red onion in coconut or olive oil, until the onion is translucent – then add the pumpkin leaves (roughly torn) – put a lid on the pot and let them wilt into the garlicky onion mix. After 4 -5 minutes – no more – stir through some thick cream and some of the grated Guernsey cheese if you want to elevate it even further – some grated lemon zest. Go to heaven. I’d be inclined to add Jewell & Co bacon to the onions and garlic as well.

Remember also my West African customers are always telling me about how they cook pumpkin leaves with nuts and coconut milk, so go that route too if you want to avoid dairy and like ground nuts and coconut dishes.

For any of you who don’t have your Christmas lunch yet planned – you know how it goes here – we make you all eat chicken and lamb. I try not to choke when people ask for turkeys – roasting chickens is the only sustainable option – not industrial turkeys from Brazil or the US.

We also asked Jan to make sure we had lamb legs for those of you want to do roast lamb for the Christmas dinner but for the most, it’s the whole chickens you want from us at this time of year.

We’ve made sure we’re stocked well for this week – it’s either the Haversham chickens – or Boschendal or the Heritage chickens. I’ve put links to the article on each for those of you who are new and want to read the articles.

We’ll be back to usual on the 8th of January. We have a big year facing us next year so after a two week pause and respite, we’ll be back with energy and purpose. Next year is the year to risk taking this journey further into a larger space.

It’s time and we’re ready.

I wanted to bring you an article on my latest trip to Glen Oakes visiting Charlie Crowther’s pigs and his new barley sprouting project that is now ready. I’ve been waiting for this for so long, such an incredible farm for pork, almost idyllic the life they lead there and getting GM soy out of their diet so that he didn’t have to buy any additional feed was always something he had hoped to do. He’s now growing barley sprouts for them which is an incredible supplement for them with maize. I’ve decided though that it’s probably best to leave that article for you for January. It’s not so likely that people will receive it while on holiday, so look out for it then.

For those of you new to us if you want to know why Jewell & Co charcuterie and Charlie Crowther’s pork are represented in-store – here is a link to an article I wrote about the incredible relationship between two great men that has us with the best charcuterie in the country made with pastured pork – A Tale of Two Great Men.

Signing Off – Reflections of our Journey This Year

My usual fashion is to do a review of the year’s highlights and the year’s lessons in these last newsletters of each year. These are never mental exercises for me, they’re deeply emotional and always cathartic.

The farm treasures we found along the way, the highlights you brought to our year, the growth, the joy and turmoil of all that meant, relationships we embraced, relationships we outgrew.

Each year as we grow we get more into synergy with the right people and the right relationships which are always the ones where the give and take are closely aligned. This year has been no different.  The relationships that work are always the ones where there is mutual respect and a synergy in values, the closer you get to defining that for yourself in a business – the more you attract those of like mind, values and heart. Relationships where the value fit isn’t aligned, just fall away or end dramatically with noise and fuss.

Some you need to actively break and some die a death in a new climate, as they should. When it comes to the relationships that endure for us and the ones that evolve with us, it is becoming more and more about ones where the balance of give and take, respect and space for mutual needs is equal. Where there is an imbalance, resentments grow, misunderstandings abound and too often it’s just a symptom of the relationship getting out of sync as people change and people grow. Or the organization.

Organic Emporium is a different animal, year in and year out, we have new evolvements, we grow and we change.

There has been a marked shift for us this year in a raised self esteem for Organic Emporium. I have learnt to be more protective of her than ever before – that has been an ongoing evolvement – I’ve learnt to put better boundaries around her, stand up for our needs more than I ever did before – prior I tended to give too much away to be honest.

This year I have become a person more demanding of how Organic Emporium is treated as well as – the team who put the hours of their lives into working here.  Far more protective of her as an entity outside of myself that I am a custodian of – where prior, the business was me.

That separation of identity has been vital to evolve into growing this business, Organic Emporium has a firm identity of her own now – she – isn’t me.

She is a reflection of something I most want to see in the world and she is a business I need to manage now – I need to recognize her as such and allow other people to run her under my guidance.

Organic Emporium is a business that employs special people we believe are right for her, serves good farmers and serves you. To survive, she can no longer – be – me.

She’s the baby I raised who now has grown up and now has an identity of her own. She stands in her own right – she has become what the farmers and you and my dear team who wake up to come here every day – have co-created, with me. I have a burning passion for the food (r )evolution and for the farmers that will shape it, and I have a vision for an alternative food system that I believe is vital to save the health of the whole – and I’ll serve that vision for the rest of my life.

By serving Organic Emporium – not being Organic Emporium.

That shift changes everything. I can better look after her now and trust her as an identity in her own right – and trust her I do – I know every inch of who she is and how she was built and her intricacies, I trust her enough now to let go and stand on her own two feet now. I’ll stand next to her – but I am no longer her.

It’s amazing how all the largest moments in life are actually quiet moments like this. It’s not the dramatic external events that make the greatest changes – it’s moments like these when something fundamental shifts inside of you, an internal epiphany that happens in an instant and changes everything.

When you birth a business out of passion and create something from it, it’s intensely personal and I wish there was more language to help us understand and navigate through the evolvement of a business that is borne of heart, hope and belief, not a rational business plan.

It is much like raising a child – there comes a time when there is a rite of passage where their childhood really ends and their adult life begins. A time when you realize, they really are setting out into the world as an adult and there is a period of mourning and loss for all the dreams you had for that time that you realize are over, time is up and you have to say goodbye not only to the child in them but to the relationship you had with them as parent – child – let it go and enter a new phase of your adult – adult chapter.

It is no different for an entrepreneur and a business that grows out of your own passion and belief, for a period it is your baby and it is you. Everything is intensely personal because the business  – is –  you. In those years you’ll people say things like ‘don’t take it personally, it’s just business and you have no concept of what they are talking about.

There is a time – usually before real growth in size happens – where you let go and mourn the child and recognize the adult you now stand before – that needs you to let go. That needs to separate its identity from you.

It’s a monumental time and there are so many rites of passage you move through with your business until the moment arrives but when it does you’re ready and it’s a liberation. There is me and then there is Organic Emporium and from here on in, my role now is to stand as her custodian and as the Mother that watched her grow and understands her the most, but I need to hand her over now to her own journey as an entity of her own. Much like my son now needs very different things from me at 25 than he did at 15 and is about to leave to move overseas.

These are the cycles of life we must treasure and honour. The trick is always being in touch with the right timing of all things. Listening when the time announces itself and being as much prepared to grieve the loss as we are to embrace the new chapter that beckons.

My job now is to accept her arrival into early adulthood, I need to get her the right resources, bring her the right people, shape her, back her growth and allow her to make her own decisions and – most importantly – now trust others with her – knowing well that she is able to hold her own.

I need to be out there driving the vision and doing what I love the most – finding new farms, developing new farms and getting you a place where you can access their produce so that we can raise the health of the whole. I need to write, I can never stop, it’s how I connect you to them.

I need to bring on more specialist skill to deal with the ‘how’ we do this and accept I’ll always be the ‘why’ but I’ve got to be more comfortable with leading from a different place as we grow.

Each year – my deepest reflections have much been about the farmers and about you. The deep treasure I find in both them and you. This year though, my deepest challenges, lessons and reflections have come from the team that keeps this all going.

It’s been a year of lessons that have come in so many different guises – to remind me that at the end of the day – when all is said and done – the people I have to stand behind and back the most – are those that work here. They have to come first.

They have to put Organic Emporium first and when they do, I need to make sure she looks after them. She asks for her pound of flesh, believe me – yet she gives so much back if she is nurtured.

Every single one of my special team has had to stretch this year – been challenged – it was a year of learning much about how a business that wants to make a difference has to put their people first, has to support each other through their darkest hours and how strong teams really work.

Deep and difficult and breakthrough dialogue has happened between all of us about what we most value and how we need to function with each other to keep the culture we need strong to provide the service levels we need to. We have all had our commitment to each other tested to the last degree this year – and we were there for each other, through some extreme circumstances.

We had to fight for the things that mattered most – and it turned out – it was each other.

Next year, it’s all about giving you a larger space and we have a strong foundation in place now. I need to feed you from this space and give you a place you can trust as much as you do the store.

I can’t wait to take you with us on the next evolution of our journeyproving that you can retail around organic farms and can retail around integrity. We can change the food system, we do need to challenge the status quo, we do need to prove organic in a mainstream context and be authentic and transparent about it –  we do need to prove we can do it without compromise, green washing and manipulation and – we will.

Thank you so much for your support this year. For supporting my team through their trials, for just being you and for investing in the future of the best farmers I can find, enriching our lives through making good, clean food, once again possible.

Also, I want to thank you for what you have shared with us this year. Themba regularly comments about how taken aback he is about how much people do real talk to in this store. You’re always real, you tell it like it is and you share so much of yourselves with us and respond to the real we give you.

I really value that. We don’t pretty it up in this store, you don’t find professional veneers, you see my real moods and real feelings all the time, if you ask me how I am, I tell you the truth and when I see that this manifests in you getting that in this store, you can relax and be in a place where you can just be real, it makes me deep smile.

One of the greatest compliments I received this year that I’m going to hold dear because it means so much to me, is a customer remarking that she battles with finding spaces in Jozi where she can just be real and that in our store, she always gets real conversation and can just be who she is. Let’s make grander spaces for more of that. Generally in this store – not  always, there are of course people we don’t much enjoy – let’s be real – when  somebody asks ‘how are you’- we really want to know.

See you on the other side of this year end. I’ll bring more news about Glen Oakes in the first article of January.

Travel safe, eat well and stay nourished – on all levels – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Much love,